Far Eastern University and National University proved that they are are now living out of the shadows of their former star players. These squads have showed their teamwork as well as their full potential early in this season making them one of the more dangerous teams in the league.
Currently with a 4-2 win-loss card, FEU holds the fourth spot while NU drops to second with a 5-2 record. With only a game left in the first round, FEU bids to hold its current state at the upper half of the standings.
To some supporters, today’s game reminded them of FEU and NU’s first round encounter last year. FEU built a huge lead early behind a slew of long range bombs. However, NU was able to play themselves back into the game, cutting the lead to as low as 7 midway through the fourth. In previous years, it would have been Romeo’s number being called to save the bleeding. This time around, it was Mike Tolomia, who sunk a turnaround late in the game to put the game out of reach. It seemed surreal, but hey, history did repeat itself.
So far, FEU is a team that’s different from year’s past. Last year, Romeo and Garcia’s playmaking were the keys to FEU’s league leading offense. This pushed the turnover numbers down (lowest TOV% in S76). However, as a result they weren’t as good at making shots (44.8 percent eFG). This year, they’re registering an eFG% of 51.4 percent, leading the league.
After their league-leading turnover rate in the first five games, the Tams managed to lessen their turnovers in their last two games. FEU’s free throw rate was a lot better from their first five games (when they averaged 16.1 percent). With a lot of trips to the charity lane and making at least half of their attempts, their FTR saw a big jump to 32.2 percent.
Review of the Keys to the Game
And the tall trees of NU obviously won the rebounding department. Troy Rosario led the pack with 12 rebounds while foreign big men Alfred Aroga and Henri Betayene had nine and eight boards apiece. The Bulldogs big men’s perseverance in collecting the boards paid well as it helped them in getting opportunities off FEU’s misses. Their second half run wouldn’t be possible without those important boards.
The duo of Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia were not in their full Super Saiyan mode as they only combined for 19 points. It wasn’t a big problem since the other guys, like Carl Cruz and Achie Inigo, made up for it with their three-point shooting. However, Belo and Tolomia didn’t just focus on making shots for themselves as they dished out seven assists and had 12 rebounds combined. Their contributions on defense were also good and their on-court leadership helped their teammates during the NU run.
Tolomia struggled hitting some perimeter shots. Luckily, his drives to the basket were effective and he challenged the much bigger defenders, finishing some acrobatic shots along the way.
On the other hand, Belo is the type of big man who loves to sprint on both ends of the court. He may be an early MVP candidate, but that doesn’t bother him since he’s only focused on how to help his team win.
These guys will always be a threat in all departments. They’ll rise when the occasion calls for it but these two won’t mind working behind the curtains if other players are producing well.
Thoughts about the game
Though FEU happened to lead by more than 20 points, I would like to applaud NU for giving a tough fight in the second half. They were able to cut the lead down to four behind Gelo Alolino‘s back-to-back baskets but ran out of gas late in the game.
In his postgame tweet, FEU head coach Nash Racela considers his team’s performance as inconsistent. Well, Coach Nash knows his team better than we do so there may be some truth to it. Looking at the numbers they produced in their past games, despite losing two games, the Tams performed well and are in contention for a possible Final Four slot. Since round two is just around the corner, Racela might be egging his team forward and trying to get the best out of his team thereby removing the ‘in’ in “inconsistent”.
Featured image courtesy of Lyka Cabungcag, FEU Advocate